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The Emerald Forest

By Tom Keogh

John Boorman's 1985 South American epic never quite gets all of its gears working simultaneously, but it remains an often startling work with an extraordinary performance by the director's own son, Charley Boorman. Powers Boothe plays an American engineer working on a dam project in Brazil. When his young son is seemingly absorbed one day into the dense perils and beauty of the Amazon rain forest, Boothe's character goes on a protracted, 10-year search for him. In the interim, Boorman puts his full storytelling powers to work by characteristically exploring the arcane rhythms and dangers of an indigenous world hidden from ordinary view. Specifically, Boorman leads us into the life of a forest tribe who have assimilated the missing child and who will ultimately send him back with the opposite of his father's pro-development sensibility. The movie is gorgeous to behold, and it's great fun watching Boorman find ever-novel ways of making the same film again and again. But the environmental message and the emotion of the core relationship get in each other's way a bit, preventing the film from uniting on every front. Still, this is a must for Boorman fans.


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Director: John Boorman

Stars: Powers Boothe, Meg Foster, Charley Boorman, Dira Pass

Released: July 3, 1985

Availability: DVD VHS CD

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